published March 8, 1996
Cover Image by Lawrence Huff
In Oriental medicine, the concept of the Art of Benevolence, which has been handed down for millennia, expresses the spirit of medical therapy based on the union of healer and the patient. It is said that medical therapy should take place through dialogue between the souls of two living people. Patients make a lengthy report of their symptoms so that the healer may understand the personality that has fallen into the extraordinary world known as pain, a world of social isolation and helplessness. Patients need their healer to acknowledge their suffering and sympathize with them so that they may be liberated from their psychological isolation. Medical therapy has the capacity to incorporate the Art of Benevolence, through which the patient can return from the extraordinary world of pain to a healthy normality.
The spirit of the Art of Benevolence is absent in modern medicine, which insists on treating the patient objectively. If people have begun to turn their back on modern medical science, it is because it focuses solely on the physical aspect of the body, neglecting a person’s spirituality. This spiritual neglect not only means a lack of consideration for the psychological origin of illness but also reflects a lack of psychological support for the patient’s return from suffering… Because modern medicine developed through a focus on emergency treatment, such as in war, it tends to put too little emphasis on spiritual healing. However, in every occurrence of illness, patients consciously or subconsciously hope that their body and mind will be treated as one and that their suffering will be sympathized with and their soul liberated. — Ryokyu Endo, The Art of Immortality
What the cultural revolution of the Sixties came to be about was transformation; the transformation of Western consciousness concerning the nature of truth, and of individual responsibility in the stewardship of society and the larger world. It was a period where people learned how to organize, to speak up and question authority. The Sixties opened up Western culture to Otherness, other ways of thinking, living, working and breathing. And through most of it John Lennon and crazy-like-a-fox Yoko Ono were there, crossing boundaries, pulling down the Keep Out signs.
Four (count ’em) pump jockeys in neat green livery surge from the big new Jomo and fan out in formation onto the Kaido, palms out, stopping both lanes, bowing repeatedly to their customer while that worthy person tucks away his receipt in his wallet, buffs his glasses on his necktie, starts his engine, fastens his seatbelt, readjusts his rearview mirror, selects a forward gear and blinks in mild surprise as his gleaming Bluebird merely lurches, restarts his engine and releases the emergency brake, creeps from the concrete apron and onto the Kaido achieving, finally, a perfectly executed right turn.
Books like those of Fukuyama’s, based on the premise that history can have some sort of an end, are examples of what Arnold Toynbee once called the ‘mirage of immortality.’ The economic and social system that Fukuyama calls liberal, democratic capitalism is largely the product of five-hundred years or more of fratricidal struggle between the world’s great powers. The collapse of communism has momentarily ren¬dered it supreme. That Fukuyama has identified this brief occasion with the end of history is itself a sign of how much the cold war has shriveled our social imagination.
Many often tease me, as in each of my recent films somebody ‘disappears’ at least once (laughter). I enjoy that kind of joke. That feeling of “being and not being’ comes directly from something connected with my sense of physiology. It’s not from ‘meaning.’ I have a sense in which the invisible can be seen only through the visible.
A sage is not simply someone with a noble mind or advanced soul. A sage is someone who listens to and obediently follows his inner nature. The Chinese character for sage is made up of two characters meaning “ear” and “to develop.” A sage listens with the heart to his inner voice without letting the ego interfere. There is a proverb relating to Oriental diagnosis, “the sage is one who knows by listening.” Here, sage refers to the selfless mind that captures and becomes filled with the essence of nature.
Architecture has to express this feeling of human potential, too, saying this is what I am as a creative individual. We must have a human, creative environment, not an environment that strives to overpower us. Now, of course, it is not the church that overpowers us, it is the large corporate skyscrapers, those huge monoliths in the center city that so oppress everyone. Those glass and steel towers are far beyond human scale. You go into some of these skyscrapers in New York and the lobby is five or six stories high! It’s ridiculous. One is just overpowered. There is no sense of human scale because they are consciously trying to overwhelm you with corporate power.
In 1963, Cid arrived in Japan almost by accident. He had applied for 27 teaching jobs in Asia, 26 of them outside Japan. As luck, or fate, would have it, he was offered the job in Japan. Since then, excepting a short stay in the U.S. in the eighties, Cid has remained in Japan, returning to the U.S. only rarely for visits and readings. He married in 1963, and together he and his wife, Shizumi, founded C.C.’s, the coffee shop I walked into that rainy day in November…
Gardening in Japan has always been a form of artistic expression using nature imagery as a vehicle. Very much like painting or sculpture, gardening is a means of giving physical, senso¬ry form to emotional or spiritual matters. Though not purely an intellectual pursuit, highly developed theories of gardening have nevertheless been detailed in treatises dating back as far as the 11th century.
Writer Ieda Shoko immerses herself in Japan’s “ura sekai” or “behind world” to communicate what she learns to the “omote sekai” or “front world.”
How much better it is when you have a partner to work with and share the load, for then you can tolerate even the sweatiest chore. Imagine how many more Tokyo skyscrapers Godzilla could’ve demolished if he’d had a like-minded companion.
A few hundred years and more ago, in the original world, silence, the quintessence of all thought, all creativity, all enlightenment, still held its rightful place in the mind. As a result of progress, however, the consequence of an ego bigger than the house one lives in, everything speaks now, all the time: streets, vending machines, buildings, elevators, subways, appliances talk to us, and we aren’t even on a first-name basis.
how now, poems by Cid Corman — Preston L. Houser
Japan, A View from the Bath, by Scott Clark — Lauren Deutsch